The Best Affordable Dishwashers of 2019By Cindy Bailen, Jonathan Chan, Julia MacDougall, Johnny Yu, and Matthew Zahnzinger
We've tested many, many dishwashers in our labs in Cambridge, MA. Dishwashers are like any other appliance; you can spend more money and get a lot of neat features and extras, or you can buy a less-expensive, pared-down dishwasher and save some money.
While the dishwashers on this list may not be the prettiest, fastest, or quietest, they can get your dishes clean and dry, and you won't need to break the bank or take out a second mortgage to buy them. Our favorite affordable dishwasher is the LG LDT5545ST (available at AppliancesConnection for $545.00), which has a cleaning power comparable to dishwashers that cost twice as much. To find out more about an individual dishwasher, click on the link to read the full review.
Updated January 18, 2019
Where To Buy$545.00 AppliancesConnection Buy $548.10 Home Depot Buy $549.00 Abt Buy $629.99 Best Buy Buy
LG LDF5545STBest Overall
The LG LDF5545ST may look futuristic, but behind its unique integrated handle is a quiet, efficient, stainless steel dishwasher with a plethora of cycles and features. Amazingly, this LG dishwasher has a cleaning performance that is comparable to that of our highest-rated Bosch dishwashers, but only costs half as much. The LDF5545ST has the best Heavy Cycle that's ever come through our labs—it removed 100% of the stains on every single dish, and showed no evidence of redeposit. The Heavy Cycle took about two and a half hours to finish, but we can hardly complain when extremely dirty dishes come out spotlessly clean.
With a solid warranty and relatively low price, this dishwasher will give you a lot of bang for your buck. Read the full review.
How We Test
Testing dishwashers is a dirty job, and we're happy to do it. We assess each dishwasher on the three major parts of the dishwasher experience— Performance, Features, and Usability.
• Stain Removal —We put the three major cycles on a dishwasher (Quick Cycle, Heavy Cycle, and Normal Cycle) to the test by baking food and beverage stains onto 15-20 dishes that are then loaded into the dishwasher per the manufacturer's loading directions. The stains include milk, spinach, egg, oatmeal, meat, and more. At the end of each cycle, we determine how much stain has been removed from each dish. Ideally, each dish is 100% clean, but that level of cleaning perfection can be harder to achieve in real life.
• Redeposit —Redeposit is the term for when, during the course of a dishwasher cycle, water jets remove bits of food from one dish, only to accidentally get it stuck on a second dish. Any dishwasher that shows little to no evidence of redeposit is a winner in our book.
• Number of Dirty Dishes —After a dishwasher cycle has finished, we count the number of dishes that are not 100% clean; if your dishwasher can't clean most of your dishes the first time, it's not doing its job correctly.
• Cycle Time —Dishwasher cycles can run the gamut from 30 minutes to four hours. Shorter cycle times are much more convenient, especially when it comes to large dinner parties, where you may need to reuse dishes from dinner when it's time for dessert.
• Drying —Whether it's accomplished with rinse aid, a built-in heater, or a built-in fan, customers expect their dishes to be dry as well as clean. We penalize the dishwasher every time a dish comes out wet, whether it's sopping wet or just covered in a few water droplets.
Features and Usability
While all of the features in the world can't make a bad dishwasher better, they can really add the finishing touch to a dishwasher that does a killer cleaning job. We look at the various cycles, cycle options, and dishwasher specs and assess both a) how useful the features are, and b) how easy it is to actually use those features.
For example, a third rack that primarily holds cutlery can often be a game-changer when it comes to freeing up valuable real estate in the bottom rack. However, if the third rack is rickety, doesn't slide smoothly, or prevents the dishwasher from actually cleaning the cutlery, we would penalize the dishwasher, rather than reward it just for having a third rack. The whole point of a dishwasher is to save you from having to spend time scrubbing every dirty dish by hand; if a particular feature isn't going to make the process of using a dishwasher better or easier, then we don't want it.
The best dishwashers have short cycles, superior stain removal and drying power, and features that make the experience of using a dishwasher a painless one.
Where To Buy$539.00 AppliancesConnection Buy $527.40 Home Depot Buy $529.00 Abt Buy $629.99 Best Buy Buy
The Whirlpool WDT730PAHZ is an affordable dishwasher with basic features—a cutlery basket with cut-outs for individual knives, forks and spoons, a height-adjustable top rack, and a few extra wash options. It performs best on the Normal cycle, where it removes nearly 100% of the food stains, and each dish comes out bone dry.
The only downside is that the cycle times are a bit long; both the Normal and Heavy cycles clock in at over two hours. The 1-Hour cycle, however, lives up to its name, and finishes in about an hour. The 1-Hour cycle is not as good at stain removal as the Normal cycle is, but it is able to successfully tackle less dirty dishes. The Whirlpool WDT730PAHZ is a great budget option for those who primarily rely on the Normal cycle to deal with the weekly dish load. Read the full review.
If you want your dishwasher to look like it costs a lot more than it actually does, the Whirlpool WDT710PAHZ is the dishwasher for you. Its sleek matte stainless steel finish means that it is mostly resistant to fingerprint smudging, so it always looks brand new on the outside. On the inside, you'll find a couple of neat higher-end features that have migrated down to this price tier. Firstly, the cutlery basket is actually mounted on the door, which frees up valuable real estate in the bottom rack. Secondly, there's a fan turns on during most cycles and dries your dishes.
Like the WDT730PAHZ, this dishwasher's strongest cycle is the Normal cycle, where it cleaned over 99% of the food stains, and completely dried each dish, leaving no water residue behind. The Heavy and 1-Hour cycles didn't do as well when it comes to stain removal, and both the Heavy and Normal cycles take over two hours to finish. For those who want luxury looks at a bargain, though, you can't do better than the Whirlpool WDT710PAHZ. Read the full review.
Where To Buy$529.99 Sears Buy
Sometimes you don't have the time or the space to install a standard 24-inch built-in dishwasher. In that case, you may want to look into a portable or a countertop dishwasher. The Kenmore 14652 is a portable dishwasher that rolls on wheels and draws water from your kitchen sink.
While its capacity is less than that of a normal dishwasher, our tests show that this dishwasher cleans as well as (or better than, in some cases) a regular 24-inch dishwasher. It has a bit more trouble when it comes to drying, and the tines are not adjustable, but if you can't fit a normal dishwasher in your kitchen, the Kenmore 14652 is the next best thing. Read the full review.
The Whirlpool WDF330PAHW is a good bare-bones dishwasher. It only has three cycles (Normal, Heavy, and 1-Hour), and the only extra cycle option you can select is heated dry, which turns on a heating element at the bottom of the dishwasher.
Like some of the other Whirlpool dishwashers on this list, your best bet for cleaning is the Normal cycle. During the Normal cycle, the Whirlpool WDF330PAHW was able to remove more than 97% of the food stains, and completely dried every single test dish except for one. The racks do not have adjustable tines, so you may have trouble fitting large or awkwardly-shaped dishes, but if you prefer having a streamlined, easy to operate interface, then the Whirlpool WDF330PAHW is both easy to use and great at cleaning. Read the full review.
Where To Buy$643.90 AppliancesConnection Buy $648.00 Home Depot Buy $649.00 Abt Buy $649.99 Best Buy Buy
The Whirlpool WDTA50SAHZ is one of the few dishwashers at this price point that we've tested that has a stainless steel interior. Most budget dishwashers have a plastic tub, which may contribute to louder dishwasher cycles and slower drying. Stainless steel tubs typically make for quieter cycles (indeed, this one clocks in at 47 dBA, which is softer than most other Whirlpool dishwashers at this price point), and also look nicer. This dishwasher also comes with small LED lights that give you status updates as to the cycle's progression. This is especially helpful if the dishwasher is so quiet that you're not sure whether it's running or not.
As for performance, the Normal and Heavy cycles were able to clean more than 96% of the food stain off of our test dishes. The 1-Hour Wash cycle, however, really struggled with some of the tougher stains; the trade-off is that the 1-Hour cycle finishes in one hour, while the other two cycles can take as long as three to four hours to finish. This dishwasher is best for households that run the dishwasher on a weekly, rather than daily basis. Read the full review.
Where To Buy$399.00 AppliancesConnection Buy $338.00 Home Depot Buy $299.00 Abt Buy $299.99 Best Buy Buy
Available in stainless steel, black and white, the Amana ADB14000AGS dishwasher isn't just one of the most affordable models we've tested—its Normal cycle does a very nice job getting your dishes clean. With only three cycles and two options, it lacks the fancy features of more expensive dishwashers, but for the asking price, it's a good value.
It struggled with the tougher, baked-on stains during the Heavy cycle, and we also noticed that there was significant spinach redeposit on other, non-spinach dishes. As long as you scrape your dishes clean before starting a cycle, though, your dishes should come out clean.
While its 60 dBA sound rating may sound loud to those who are used to the ultra-quiet dishwashers of today, if you're purchasing this dishwasher to replace an older model, it may just sound quiet to you. Read the full review.